Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC ev...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Kate Kane has taken over as Gotham City's caped crusader in the wake of Batman's apparent death in the DC event Final Crisis. Kane's a former marine, forced out of the U.S. Armed forces under the tenets of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", a policy barring gay and lesbian soldiers from serving openly in the military; however, her drive to protect Gotham, and her desire to overthrow a mysterious cult that tried to kill her six months earlier, motivates Kane to transform herself into the vigilante Batwoman.
As Kane rises to power, a new madwoman and her minions threaten the good citizens of Gotham with a toxic death cloud and an unrelenting urge for chaos. But Alice—the Lewis Carroll–quoting High Madame of the Religion of Crime—has more than poison in her arsenal, and the dizzying revelations she carries will alter Batwoman's life forever…
To start, I have to praise J.H. Williams III and his remarkable, panel-shattering artwork. Whenever Kane dons her iconic suit and takes to the crime-filled streets of Gotham, readers are treated to non-linear fight scenes saturated with Kane's taste for blood-red accents, and the very layout of Williams's panels take on a highly-stylized, shattered design that begs for hours of careful study.
Of course, due credit should be given to author Greg Rucka who's been praised for his nuanced, thoughtful depiction of Kate Kane, the modern incarnation of Batwoman herself. Here, Rucka takes the time to explore the motivations behind Kane's vigilantism and fills out her backstory with salient political issues, namely her dishonourable discharge under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." She's sacrificed a career with the armed forces to live an honest life, and her aim to bring justice to Gotham's streets makes perfect sense in this context. When it comes to personable, complicated superheroines, I can think of no better vigilante to start with than Batwoman.
Ideal for: Readers craving lush, groundbreaking artwork and a capable, complicated superheroine; Folks who'd like to see LGBTQ issues rendered in a thoughtful, action-packed story arc; DC fans and members of the Bat-clan.(less)
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six tr...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Morning Glory Academy is one of the most prestigious prep schools in America—as the collection opens, six troubled teens pack their lives into a single suitcase each and tie up loose ends in their hometowns. Casey's thrilled with her scholarship, while Ike's mother can't believe the school would scout her psychopathic son. Zoe's a serial dater with a disinterest in school, Hunter's a Canadian sweetheart from a broken home, Jade (formerly Jane) has an obsession with vampires and a clear stalker streak, and Fukayama Jin has a quick wit and a killer's instinct. However, once the teens arrive on campus—in a drug-induced blackout, no less—their fight for survival begins, and the mysteries behind these hallowed doors reveal themselves one by one…
Nick Spencer's written quite the introduction to his series, and his main cast possesses quite the loveable crew of anti-heroes. I took an immediate shine to Casey, the blonde bombshell who's also the leader of the new recruits. She's clever, organized, and she puts a bit of fear into her über-sadistic teachers. Also, I will have to honour fellow Canadian, Hunter—his talents have yet to be seen at this point (aside from his good-natured, beta-male approach to this murderous new life), but I get the sense he's got a few tricks hidden up his sleeves.
I found Joe Eisma's panels were well-structured and the pacing of the horrific scenes was good—the nightmarish images averaged about one-per-comic and tended to occur after a page flip (again adding to the general warning at the start of this post…). I did find some of the artwork became repetitive at times and duplicate panels or panels with minimal differences between them were regular features.
I expect I'll pick up the next volume in the series, if only to delve deeper into the dark secrets of Morning Glory Academy. Of course, next time around, I'll make sure to start reading well before 10 PM…
Ideal for: Readers craving a labyrinthine mystery in their sci fi horror; Teens looking for clever, convoluted, sixteen-year-old protagonists; Fans of secret societies, government training programs, or other sinister (and lowdown) groups.(less)
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youth...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Joshua Joseph Spork vowed to live a quiet life. As the son of Mathew "Tommy Gun" Spork, Joe spent his youth among the glamorous, self-made thieves of the Night Market and learned of London's mobster scene from the Dandy of Hoosegow himself. In the wake of his father's death, Joe renounced his title as the heir of crime and followed his grandfather, Daniel, into the honourable world of clockwork repair. Of course, Joe's business suffers under its anachronistic leanings, and he struggles to earn a living with his antique clocks and mechanical curios.
When Joe's mischievous pal, Billy Friend, offers him a glimpse of a clockwork "doodah", Joe takes the fate of the world into his very hands. His tinkering activates a contraption called the Angelmaker, a veritable doomsday machine commissioned by Shem Shem Tsien—the sadistic Opium Khan of Addeh Sikkim—and built by Frankie Fossoyeur, a Frenchwoman consumed by her own brilliance. With the clock running, Joe must call upon his thieving roots and put his street smarts to work in order to survive. At the same time, one woman named Edie Banister—a former British intelligence agent from the Second World War era—holds the well-guarded secret of the Angelmaker's origins, and only she knows how to stop the deadly clockwork swarm within…
Nick Harkaway captures a brilliantly gritty and violent world of organized crime, espionage, and government-sanctioned torture, while creating a vibrant cast of characters overflowing with amusing tics and cutting humour at every turn. He's got an excellent ear for dialogue as well, and he wields a dark, very British sense of humour in the most unlikely situations. I found I took an immediate shine to Joe Spork for his loveable, somewhat self-defeatist attitude at the start, and for his hesitant charm throughout.Readers are treated to a rare example of a coming-of-(middle)-age novel, which proves to be a delightful twist to a common generic convention.
Overall, Angelmaker proves an addictive read with a stinging sense of humour, and readers will find an eclectic blend of noir mystery, science fiction, and espionage action all in one shot.
Ideal for: Noir newcomers with a penchant for sci fi; Dark humorists craving the glitz and swank of London's underworld; Readers craving complex narrative puzzles within their looming-apocalypse books; Folks interested in coming-of-(middle)-age stories and their unpredictable outcomes.(less)
Two months have passed since Ava's last assignment. While savouring the good weather on a family cruise arou...moreFull review posted on Across the Litoverse
Two months have passed since Ava's last assignment. While savouring the good weather on a family cruise around Curaçao, Ava takes a business call from Uncle. He has little information to offer, but the client—Wong Changxing, the "The Emperor of Hubei"—has called in an urgent favour and needs to meet with the duo immediately.
Wong, one of the most powerful men in China, is livid after discovering his collection of Fauvist paintings are forgeries. His love for the French masters of this colourful, bold movement collapses when a representative from Harrington's auction house informs Wong that at least seventeen of these paintings—with a combined total of eighty million dollars—were painted by professional forgers. With his pride at stake, Wong cannot afford a public scandal and his second wife May Ling will not allow their finances to be compromised further. Ava's reputation as a forensic accountant precedes her, and her particular brand of persuasion could help bring these thieves to light. But her gut reaction to Wong's revenge-lust sets Ava on the defensive, and May Ling's gradual interference in the investigation could prove disastrous to all parties involved…
Ah, Ava Lee—Canada's sweetheart and James Bond's official successor, all wrapped into one clever, deadly package. The Wild Beasts of Wuhan offers cleaner dialogue and excellent verbal sparring, a nice glimpse into the mundane work of accountancy, and a brilliant representation of a queer relationship and the stresses of having a girlfriend in the process of coming out. Ian Hamilton's fourth book—The Red Pole of Macau—drops in Canada this July 2012 and you can bet I will be first in line for Ava's next adventure.
Ideal for: Disbelievers of detective fiction and mystery stories; Kids who get a kick out of James Bond and his brand of suave, action-packed detective/spy work; Readers in need of a positive portrayal of a queer woman who just happens to kick lots of ass as well. (less)
To protect familial honour, the truth can be buried—but one must know that secrets never die. When a demoliti...moreOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
To protect familial honour, the truth can be buried—but one must know that secrets never die. When a demolition crew unearths Vito Santoro's remains at an Italian seaside villa, his sister Piera locks her door against the accusations and anger of her extended family. Following Vito's disappearance fifty years earlier, Piera insisted she received regular correspondence from her eldest brother after he settled in Argentina. His former wife, Teresa, was left to raise their infant son, Marco, under Piera's iron rule without knowing that Vito was, in fact, dead. As forensics teams investigate Vito's mysterious death, the five remaining Santoro siblings and Teresa demand answers from Piera; however, the self-proclaimed matriarch will only open her door to her Canadian-born nephew, David, who she entrusts with a scrapbook detailing her youth and the circumstances leading up to Vito's disappearance.
But the Santoros are rife with their own resentments, conflicting desires, and bitter feuds—at times, her siblings' stories undercut and complicate Piera's narrative to the point where no one can be trusted. David, as an outsider and an academic, possesses the tools needed to uncover the unnamed familial shame strangling his family, but the cost proves higher than anticipated…
Genni Gunn's Solitaria marked an excellent addition to the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize Longlist for its complex tussling over family honour and personal sacrifice, its staggering portrayals of guilt/shame shared between siblings, and its poetic exploration of a multigenerational mystery within a gorgeous Italian landscape. I do love it when narrators are unreliable and, in the case of Piera and her siblings, the reader learns that each tale contains mere shards of the truth, and that a storyteller does little more than reflect their own biases concerning the past.
Gunn offers a well-crafted literary mystery populated with deceptive, complex characters circling around an explosive revelation that will keep readers riveted until the last page.
Ideal for: Mystery readers who like a clean shot of the literary in their fiction; Folks looking for a captivating, poetic Canadian novel; Readers who love a gorgeous Italian backdrop; Kids keen on cruising through the 2011 Giller Prize Longlist. (less)
a garage sale detour in a small Saskatchewan town, RCMP Constable Arabella Dryvynsydes discovers a duplicate...moreOriginally posted on Across the Litoverse
a garage sale detour in a small Saskatchewan town, RCMP Constable Arabella Dryvynsydes discovers a duplicate photograph of her paternal grandmother, Sara, and her late twin sister among the stacks of old tokens for sale. After losing her mother one year earlier, and after the recent dissolution of a long-term relationship, Arabella craves a new project to focus on in a bid to forget the stinging wounds of recent months. How did a photograph taken in the mining town of Extension, B.C., wind up in a stranger's possession one hundred years later? And what implications does this hold for Arabella's present life?
As she sifts through a packet of long-forgotten letters and traces her roots back through the oral testimonies of her aunt and father, Arabella revives the memory of her great-grandmother, Jane Owens, and uncovers the dark secrets Jane took to her grave. One part detective novel and one part CanLit historical narrative, Extensions explores one woman's quest to understand her origins while resolving a century-old murder case. All in a day's work for the RCMP, n'est-ce pas?
Sadly, Extensions was rife with numerous issues for me: Jane Owens' narrative (by far the most compelling part of the book) was often hijacked by the mundane doings of Arabella's life; characters' names and relationships were convoluted and difficult to follow without a visualized family tree (i.e. try sorting out a Jane, Janet, and Janetta or a Lewyllyn and Llewellyn); and Myrna Dey's representations of minority groups were often limiting and distressing—I wasn't clear if this was meant to show a small mindedness in Arabella, or if the comments were…uh, serious.
I would advocate skipping Extensions unless you're aiming to read through the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist like me.(less)